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Gonzalez and Kuster send Bipartisan Letter to President Biden urging the Administration to Combat Child Exploitation

Today Representatives Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16) and Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), sent a letter to President Biden urging the Administration to prioritize funding for law enforcement that combat the spread of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and to support bipartisan legislative solutions in addressing this horrific problem. The letter emphasizes the urgency of addressing this issue, as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a stark increase in CSAM reports.

“Given this sharp increase [of CSAM reports], and the critical importance of preventing the spread of CSAM online, we request your Administration make combatting the spread of CSAM a priority in your budget requests,” the Members wrote in a letter to President Biden. “In particular we ask that you support additional funding for law enforcement officers who are tasked with preventing the spread of this material online. We also encourage you to support bipartisan legislative approaches to fighting this problem like our bill, the Eliminate Network Distribution of Child Exploitation, or END Child Exploitation Act”

In December 2019 Gonzalez, Ann Kuster (D-NH), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), and Lucy McBath (D-GA) alongside Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) introduced the END Child Exploitation Act following the release of a New York Times investigative report highlighting disturbing growth in online child exploitation across the country.

The bill would extend the timeframe that tech companies can maintain reported CSAM on their platforms from 90 to 180 days, in order to allow law enforcement more time to investigate the reported material. The bill also provides some legal certainty to tech companies that keep the material past that timeframe in order to prevent further dissemination of CSAM. Gonzalez and Kuster plan to re-introduce the END Child Exploitation Act in the coming months.

Gonzalez has been consistent advocate for preventing the spread of child exploitation material online leading bipartisan letters to the House Judiciary Committee and the Government Accountability Office last Congress.

A PDF of the letter is available here and the text of the letter is available below.


President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500


Dear President Biden:

We write to express our increasing concern about the spread of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online and ask your Administration to prioritize funding for law enforcement that combat these crimes and bipartisan legislative actions to further address these terrible offenses.

In recent years, we have seen a significant increase in reports of CSAM online and bipartisan support for addressing the issue in Congress. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has only further exacerbated the spread of CSAM as individuals began spending more time online. In March and April of 2020 alone, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received over 6 million reports relating to CSAM. Reported CSAM to NCMEC in March 2020 more than doubled from March of 2019, and more than tripled from April 2020 compared to April 2019.

Given this sharp increase, and the critical importance of preventing the spread of CSAM online, we request your Administration make combatting the spread of CSAM a priority in your budget requests. In particular we ask that you support additional funding for law enforcement officers who are tasked with preventing the spread of this material online.

We also encourage you to support bipartisan legislative approaches to fighting this problem like our bill, the Eliminate Network Distribution of Child Exploitation, or END Child Exploitation Act. Currently, tech companies are required to retain information on CSAM for 90 days after reporting the material to NCMEC. This timeframe is often not sufficient for habitually under-resourced law enforcement to conduct the necessary investigative process. The END Child Exploitation Act doubles this time frame to 180 days and provides legal certainty to tech companies that store this reported content for a period past 180 days for the purpose of preventing the further dissemination of the content.

We must act now to prevent the spread of CSAM online. There is strong bipartisan support within Congress for additional federal action to address this horrific epidemic. We look forward to working with you and your Administration to better protect our children and communities.


Sincerely,

Anthony Gonzalez

Ann McLane Kuster

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